WASHINGTON — The ambitious plans of top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives to tackle immigration this year may already be in trouble, before the House speaker has even had a chance to unveil his ideas on how to fix problems that have long plagued the nation and, more recently, divided the GOP.
Republicans plan to kick off a three-day retreat this week where leaders are expected, among other initiatives, to call for legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, intends to unveil his legislative outline, which also is likely to include strengthening border security, adding more high-tech visas and revamping the guest worker program.
But several members of Congress' influential Republican Study Committee say a consensus is growing that bringing immigration to the floor this year is a bad idea and might seriously hurt the party in an otherwise positive-looking year. There were subdued cheers on the Republican side of the gallery during the State of the Union address Tuesday night when President Barack Obama called for immigration restructuring this year.
"It's time," Obama said.
Boehner and other Republican leaders want to solve the immigration issue as part of their efforts to change the perception of the GOP to a party that's more welcoming to a growingly diverse electorate. Obama won a second term with more than 70 percent of the Latino vote.